DIY Shadbellys, Night Rides And Perspective: Our Best Of Amateurs Like Us In 2015

Dec 30, 2015 - 10:26 AM

Another new series this year on, the Amateurs Like Us articles strike a real chord for many readers. We feature blogs by and profiles of amateur riders across the country as they seek to find the balance between work, family and riding like so many of us do. We publish an Amateurs Like Us story—either a profile or a blog—each Wednesday.

Here are the top 10 most-read Amateurs Like Us from the past year. Have an amateur you think would fit in? Email us about them!

#1  Wear The Shadbelly That Brought You

When a budget-challenged amateur hunter rider with derby dreams finds a shadbelly jacket for $30, it’s a must-buy, right? So what if it’s a dressage shadbelly? A little bit of Sharpie marker and hot glue, and voila, hunter shadbelly!

“I wasted a good chunk of my junior days whining about my off-brand riding apparel, and blaming judges for not placing me in the hunters because I was on a Thoroughbred. What I’ve started figuring out as a wise, wise old adult amateur is how futile it is to be upset about things you can’t control.”

Read more…

#2  Time To Stop Riding

When Chronicle Managing Editor Sara Lieser discovered she was expecting, she wrote some very entertaining and heartfelt blogs about being a pregnant amateur rider. In this one, she discussed how making the decision to say, “It’s time,” affected her.

“This peace and focus is a big part of why I’ve continued to ride as long as I have while pregnant. For me, the risks were worth the reward of feeling like myself for an hour. As my body has morphed into an alien thing, and I’ve tried to prepare my mind for this monumental life change, I’ve had this sacred time to return to myself while on horseback. No longer.”

Read more…


#3 Jumping Five iPhones

They’re just holes in the standards at 3” increments, but for some amateurs, they’re enormous challenges. Blogger Natalie Voss is one of them, and she writes hilariously about how she deals with “fence-height-phobia.”

“Finally, I read an excellent Buzzfeed-style article comparing common jump heights to everyday objects. Did you know that 2 feet is the equivalent of 4.5 iPhones stacked end on end? And that 2’6” is just about the height of a fire hydrant, or a lab puppy? (Please, do not contact me and tell me if that is not true.) Who’s afraid of a fire hydrant, for goodness’ sake?”

Read more…

#4  Patience Paid Off For Veterinarian Sarah Puchalski

She juggles a career as a world-reknowned radiologist with showing in the amateur jumpers.

“Be patient and work hard; set your career up so you can ride later. Luckily, you can ride for decades. Horses and riding will always be there,” are Sarah Puchalski’s words of wisdom to fellow amateurs.

Read more…

#5  Life Outside The Bubble

Blogger and amateur rider Kristin Carpenter has a fantastic reality check for all of us.

“But for those of us who follow our passion for horses into the competition world, it can become a snow globe that traps us and hijacks our life balance. When things are going well you sit inside the settled globe smiling, and feeling as though all is right in the world.

“When things go poorly and your globe gets shaken, you feel as though the universe is caving in around you, and all your dreams are disintegrating before your eyes. But in the end, you are just in a self-created snow globe panicking over horse problems.”

Read more…

#6  Liz Holtz Messaglia Is Cross-Training Her Way To A Dream

Three horses, three children, and a Labrador puppy. This amateur is juggling it all and creating new opportunities for herself with an unexpected horse of a lifetime.

“I wouldn’t be doing anything that I’m doing if it wasn’t for that fabulous white horse I’ve got. I’m such a better rider than I was when I bought him. The doors he’s opened, the people I’ve met—lessons with Leslie Law, the amazing things I’ve learned, are priceless.”

Read more…

#7  Caroline Johnson Has Gone From 4-H To Devon With Distance

How did a young 4-Her of modest means find herself at the Devon Horse Show? One special mare who changed her life.

“It was a little surreal. Seeing her on the Jumbotron playing over the ring was cool. I thought to myself, ‘She actually looks like all these other horses that are here! She fits in.’”

Read more…

#8  The Reset Button

We’ve all been there. The “I cannot ride this horse” moment, when you feel incapable of doing justice to your four-legged partner’s generosity.

Blogger Natalie Voss has been there. “I won’t tell you how many packages of Oreos I ate, or how many times the patient HSH had to listen to me wailing, “Why am I such a pipsqueak??!” as I stared at photos of Rolex-level riders.” But she found her way past that moment and back into a productive relationship with her horse with some very simple advice.

Read more…

#9  Kacie Linegar’s Night Rides Keep Her Grounded

What makes this full-time working mother of three head out to the barn after the kids’ bedtime? She loves to ride, and her commitment is paying off.

“You can get very lost in becoming a mother or staying a professional, or whatever your life throws at you,” she said. “Identifying what’s important and what’s yours as a person has helped keep me centered. My identity as an equestrian has helped remind me that I’m still me, even though so much has changed.”

Read more…

#10  Sheryl Ross Rides To Survive

This amateur has had to re-invent herself a few times over, as she’s battled cancer and career changes. But she’s kept herself in the saddle because she loves the horses.

“It’s really hard, and some days you just think, ‘I can’t move, I don’t want to get out of bed.’ But I would go to the barn, and when I get on a horse, I sort of forget how I feel.”

Read more…



You can read all the fantastic Amateurs Like Us stories here…


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